how to measure bear hide?


New member
Nov 5, 2002
Walla Walla, WA
I shot a really nice black bear in May of 2001. Based on its girth it weighed about 375#. When I had the hide off of the carcass I measured it from tip of nose to tip of tail and came up with 77". From front claw tip to front claw tip was 87" which would be a squared hide size of 6' 10". I did my best to lay it out flat without stretching it. When I got the rug back it measured 6' 6" nose to tail and 6' 6" across the front claws. So either I inadvertently stretched it too wide in the field or it shrunk some during tanning or rug making. This brings up a couple questions. First of all are most mature bears the same length from nose to tail as they are across the claws or is it more likely that they would be longer across the claws than nose to tail? Secondly do the rugs often come back smaller than field measurements (not factoring in that many hunters get carried away stretching the hide)? Is the best way to measure a bear in order to get a realistic squared rug figure to just measure the nose to tail dimension while the hide is still on the carcass? Thanks, Rufous.
It's been my experience most bears are longer from claw to claw than they are nose to tail. Your best bet to get a true square on the bear is measure it in the field, because skin is elastic. As soon as you take that cape off it shrinks. Taxidermists normally have to rehydrate coats that return from the tannery. You can see where this might give or take an inch. My best advice to you is to do the measuring in the field. A lot of times when I go bear hunting I take a piece of string tied off in 1' increments anywhere from 6' to 12' (depending if I am going brown bear hunting or black bear). It is easy to follow the contour with the string and is light weight to backpack with. Mark your sting if you have to to get an exact measurement and then remeasure it back at base camp. I keep a measuring tape there. Another way to help get a bear back that truly respects the size and shape of your bear is to measure the distance between the ears and from the tip of the nose to the corner of the eye. These simple measurements will help a respectful taxidermist out. Or you can just wing it like most people do and give him the bear.


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